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I have a new mini-project. It is a conlang, currently unnamed. It is based on a bogus concept: a bogolang if you will. Thanks to the experienced conlanger Geoff Eddy for his introduction to the concept (on his now no longer available websites). A bogolang is a constructed language wherein sound changes are applied to one language so that it will sound like another language. The most famous example of this is Brithenig (Latin to Welsh), created by Andrew Smith. I find that David J Peterson, the creator of the Dothraki language and many others, has the best description of the language:

There are two methods Geoff describes: the 'historical' approach vs the 'adaptive' approach. The first applies sound changes from the history of the target language onto the source. The second is described as "sound-changes which approximate to how a native speaker of the target language would unconsciously render the source language." I feel that this does not explain well the adaptive method. The method is supposed to yield the whole target language's phonology, whereas a real approximation would not go so far as that.

I will be using the adaptive method to make a language that has an Icelandic-style grammar but sounds like French. My source language will be Old West Norse from the 9th/10th century, and my target will be French (albeit with a few Norman characteristics). To begin with, I need to compare the phonologies of Old West Norse and French (using the International Phonetic Alphabet):

Sounds of Old West Norse
/p b t d k ɡ/
/m n̥ n/
/r̥ r/
/f θ s h hʷ/
/j w/
/l̥ l/

/i y u e ø o ɛ œ ɔ a/, plus nasalisation, length and long nasalisation
 ɛ a/

/n̥ r̥ l̥/ only occurred word-initially
The voiced plosives were lenited to a fricative in between vowels except in the beginning of a compound word.

Sounds of French
/p b t d k ɡ/
/m n ɲ/
/f v s z ʃ ʒ ʁ/
/j ɥ w/
/i y u e ø o ə ɛ œ ɔ a ɑ/
/ɛ̃ œ̃ ɔ̃ ɑ̃/

Initial work
We can see already what needs to go away and what needs to be innovated:
Lose /n̥ r̥ r θ h hʷ l̥ ø ɛ a/, all nasalised vowels except for /ɛ̃ œ̃ ɔ̃ ɑ̃/ and phonemic length
Gain /ɲ ʃ ʒ ʁ ɥ ə ɑ ɑ̃/

Here are some ideas I will include in my sound change list:
/hʷ/ → /w/ before a vowel and /g/ otherwise
/w/ → /u/ when not directly preceding a vowel
/θ/ → /t/
[ð ɣ] elide
/r̥ r/ → /ʁ/


  1. Why Old West Norse? I would expect Old East Norse for a contact language between Old Norse and Old French.

    1. The reason is that Old West Norse is the ancestor of Icelandic. The whole premise of the conlang is bogus anyway; west or east is one of the least of the problems my premise has with realism.